ANTHY301-19B (HAM)

Imagining Cultures

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences


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Paper Description

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Nau mai, Haere mai! Welcome to you all!

ANTHY301-19B Imagining Cultures examines key concepts and theoretical shifts in sociocultural anthropology from the late 19th century to the present. It reviews major thinkers and their foundational texts within a range of analytical frameworks - history of ideas, schools of thought, national traditions, postcolonial critique - as well as in relation to contemporaneous political and social contexts.

A parallel focus is the word 'culture', which became the defining motif of twentieth century anthropology through the discipline's rejection of the dominant Western view of a singular and hierarchical 'Culture' ("the civilizational achievements of 'advanced' peoples, especially of European descent"), and its replacement with the pluralised and relativistic notion of 'cultures' ("the unique combination of lifeways and worldviews that defines each and every human community, throughout time and across the globe").

The latter democratic and non-racialised sense of 'cultures' subsequently migrated into the other social sciences and academia generally, and also has been widely adopted by humanity at large. Indeed, this word/idea could be said to be Anthropology's major contribution to the contemporary world.

ANTHY301-19B Imagining Cultures is worth 15 points and can be taken as part of a major in Anthropology, or as a support paper in any Arts, Social Science, Psychology, Law, Education, Maori/Pacific and Indigenous Studies, or other programme within the university.

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Paper Structure

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This paper is centred on a weekly two-hour lecture taught by Dr Tom Ryan, on Wednesdays 2-4 pm in KB.07. These will cover the main topics for the course, charting deveolopments in anthropological thinking from the late 19th to the early 21st centuries.

In the other two-hour slot, set for Thursdays 1-3 pm in MSB.101 (though this room may yet change), Esther Liddle will lead a discussion on the prescribed reading/s for the week, to be followed by the submission by each student of their commentary on that reading.

All students are expected to attend both classes each week. To this effect, a roll will be maintained.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

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    • understand the major theoretical developments in the discipline of anthropology, as well as of the historical context in which such paradigms took form and gained ascendancy.
    • appreciate the anthropological definition of 'cultures', and how this relativised sense of the term was subsequently adopted by other social sciences and by the academic world generally.
    • comprehend the ways in which theoretical assumptions and biases may influence ethnographic and ethnological observations and interpretations of empirical data.
    • read, think, and write critically about how anthropologists have historically and currently understood and represented their research participants and the cultures they belong to.
    • should they wish, pursue graduate studies in anthropology with an important building block in their disciplinary formation.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Class attendance, both lectures and discussions
2. In-Class Test One
15 Aug 2019
1:00 PM
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
3. In-Class Test Two
10 Oct 2019
1:00 PM
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
4. Class Reading Summaries
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History (any edition), R. Jon McGee & Richard L. Warms. Due to the recent closure of the campus bookshop it is advised that you purchase this text through Amazon or similar websites.

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Online Support

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Class announcements will be sent through Moodle
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You are expected to spend 12 hours per week on this paper - this includes 3 hours of class and 9 hours reading, studying and writing.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Prerequisite papers: ANTH101 or ANTHY101 or ANTH102 or ANTHY102.




Restricted papers: ANTH301

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